Thursday, January 11, 2018

10 Year Old Courage RIS Clone

A torch passing of sorts. With the bottles of my 2007 batch of Courage Russian Imperial Stout clone running out I rebrewed the recipe (with a few tweaks) in 2015. I’ve labeled the caps from 2017 to 2050, so this marks the extension of my now decade-long Christmas tradition!

Watch me drink the two beers, or read my thoughts below. If you've got any comments on the videos (other than my microphone induced v-neck) let me know!



Courage RIS 2007

Smell – Fantastic mixture of deep/dark Port-like fruitiness and rich caramel. Roast is subdued, more coffee than a Quad or Belgian Strong Dark, but not by much. Brett provides subtle leathery notes, but it isn’t obvious with everything else going on. I could pass it off as "age" if I hadn't brewed it.

Appearance – The head is soap-sudsy, the bubbles are larger than expected. Nearly pitch-black body. When I returned for a second pour it came with hard bits of desiccated yeast. Should have poured it all to start!

Taste – Similar to the nose, rich and full of plums, figs, caramel, and light roast. The Brett lingers softly in the finish. Leather, and maybe a little cherry. Harmonious, really balanced thanks to the added attenuation by the Brett. Minimal hop bitterness thanks to the aging. Still tastes remarkably fresh compared to big stouts I’ve brewed more recently, thanks to the metabisulfite.

Mouthfeel – Smooth and full, without being sticky. Low carbonation, perfect for a big dark beer.

Drinkability & Notes – Would have opened another bottle if it was an option. One of my favorite batches of homebrew to date.

Changes for Next Time – As close to perfection as I can imagine creating in a big-dark-funky-fruity-historic stout! I don’t know what Courage Russian Imperial Stout tasted like 100 years ago, but I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t this good!

Courage RIS 2015

Smell – Fresher and more apparent English-maltiness. That brown malt provides a coarse toasty note that clashes with the bolder Brett funkiness. Comparatively mild caramel and dark fruit.

Appearance – Darker, denser, creamier, longer-lasting head. Part of that is higher carbonation, and the rest is likely freshness.

Taste – Coarser, with burnt toast, Brett-funk, and oak competing for attention. There are some nice flavors there, and the fresher-brighter-cleaner biscuity and roasty notes are pleasant. Hopefully with time the oak will mellow and the Brett and malt will balance.

Mouthfeel – The carbonation disrupts the smoothness, especially when combined with rough tannins from the oak. Hopefully the latter will mellow, and swirling helps with the former. Not sure if I was unsuccessful at killing the Brett, or if I simply over-primed (or had attenuation from the bottling strain).

Drinkability & Notes – It’s OK, but still young, rough, and discordant. It has a lot of time to improve, and I'll be disappointed if it doesn't!

Changes for Next Time – Hopefully time is all that is needed, but would be hard not to revert to the original recipe if I were to brew this again… especially on a larger scale!



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Fresh Juniper Saison with El Dorado

Eastern Red Cedar tea.I really enjoy beers brewed with local ingredients, but local grains and hops have never been at the top of that list. In both cases local usually doesn't mean fresher, higher quality, or more variety. Often the opposite is true, and for double the price. Conversely, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs are naturally advantaged over their nonlocal competition. They are at their best immediately after harvest and include varieties not suitable for shipping. Buying fresh in these cases is often less than the shelf-stable versions (although that means more processing for the brewer).

For this batch of rye saison I opted for a blend of hops and grains from around the world, paired with freshly harvested juniper (Eastern Red Cedar) from my backyard. This was my second batch using trimmings from that tree, after the more traditional Summer Kveik earlier in the year. The other half of this batch went on to be a rye pale ale, dry-hopped with Galaxy and I didn't want juniper in that beer. To avoid splitting the boil I added the juniper as a tea, rather than directly to the mash or wort.

I wanted a more complex and substantial malt backbone to counter the aromatic hops and juniper, so pale malt and rye made sense. Big quality-of-life upgrade from my old Barley Crusher to my new Monster Mill 2Pro-SL. Not far from this saison brewed a few years ago, but with spelt flour replacing the wheat malt. Fermentation was carried out by my house saison culture.

It was also my first batch using the Genesis Fementer that Brewcraft USA sent for me to try out. It features a pre-santized bag to ferment the wort in. It made clean up easy, but I found the bag annoying to work with otherwise. It took some effort to get it fluffed up enough to get the tubing down into it for run-off. I also found it difficult to see where my auto-siphon was for racking. In the past all of my fermentors had either been clear (glass and plastic carboys) or had a wide opening to allow me to see down into the fermentor to know when to tilt or stop to avoid sucking up trub.

This batch also has my second video, a bit abbreviated compared to the first and with slightly better audio thanks to a new microphone!



Fresh Juniper Saison

Dry-Hopped Brett Saison with Fresh Juniper.Smell – Nice mixture of generic American-hop-fruitiness and saison yeast pepper. Mild Brett-pineapple, but still fresh. Juniper comes across more naturally piney, no big apricot as I’ve tasted in a few beers brewed with boil-addition Eastern Red Cedar. Maybe has to do with an interaction with the malt? Seasonal flavor-change?

Appearance – Nearly flawless saison; glowing gold with a luscious white head. Leaves rings of sticky lacing with each sip.

Taste – The hops and juniper meld beautifully, reinforcing each other. Slight maltiness in the finish, thanks to the rye malt. Juniper comes out most in the finish, especially towards the bottom of the glass. Woody, green, not like toasted oak (no vanilla or toasted nuts).

Mouthfeel – The extra proteins and beta glucans from the rye and spelt combine to provide some substance to the body. Carbonation is a little low, would have been fun bottled. At first it had sort of a resiny harshness to the finish, thankfully that has dropped out.

Drinkability & Notes – Weird, but not too weird. Surprisingly drinkable with a good balance of hops, herbs, and funk.

Changes for Next Time – Would like to try it with juniper in the mash/boil to see how it changes the expression.

Monster Mill 2Pro-SL on the left, Barley Crusher on the right.Recipe

Batch Size: 5.75 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 36.3
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.008
ABV: 5.9%
Final pH: 4.12
Brewhouse Efficiency: 79%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
68.2% - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
22.7% - 2.5 lbs Weyermann Rye Malt
9.1% - 1 lbs Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flour

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 154F

Hops
-------
1.50 oz Amarillo (Pellets, 6.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
1.50 oz Citra (Pellets, 9.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
1.50 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 10.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
0.50 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 11.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 15.00% AA) Dry Hop

Water
-------
7.00 g Calcium Chloride
5.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
1.50 tsp 88% Lactic Acid

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
130
100
170
15
10
90

Other
-------
1 Pint Juniper Tea:
    1 gallon of Water
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 60 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 30 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 10 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 0 mins

Yeast
-------
Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Notes
-------
All DC Filtered water for mash and sparge. Mash pH 5.29 at mash temp. Collected 6.75 gallons of 1.050 runnings. 1 gallon of distilled water added pre-boil reduced gravity to 1.045.

For the juniper infusion, brought a gallon of water to a boil with 40 g of Eastern Red Cedar. Boiled for 60 minutes with 40 additional grams at 30, 10, and flame-out. Allowed to chill naturally with the juniper still in there. Added 2 cups to the saison half (~25% of the resulting amber liquid).

Amarillo/Citra/Simcoe in the boil was all 2014. Galaxy was 2016.

Saison with my house culture, directly from fridge (honey saison).

Left both at 68F to ferment.

11/26/17 Dry hopped the saison with El Dorado. Still in primary. Warmed to mid-70s ambient.

12/7/17 Kegged the Saison and started force carbonation in kegerator.

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cherry Wine: Flanders Red Recipe

Spent dried sour cherries in Flemish red.When it comes to adding fruit to sour beer I've long advocated waiting, both on the blog (and in American Sour Beers). This serves two purposes. First, it delays the decision point, allowing the brewer to taste the unaugmented beer and decide the optimal treatment for each carboy or barrel (blend, fruit, dry hop, drain etc.). Second, it allows you to drink the packaged sour beer while the fruit aromatics are still fresh and vibrant. But is that approach sacrificing anything?

Talking to Scott about his "two season" peach sour, and hearing the approaches at a few breweries (e.g., Wicked Weed - Red Angel has 1 lb per gallon of raspberries in the barrels at three weeks and then 3 lbs more per gallon at the end) got me thinking. Early fruit allows for yeast-interactions before the pH falls far enough to inhibit those enzymes; theoretically it could produce a richer perhaps "jammy" fruit profile. Reserving a portion of the fruit could adds back those aromatics that would be oxidized or volatilized by the end of aging.

The base beer for my first attempt at the technique was a Flemish red. The recipe is not far from numerous beers I'd brewed before except for two notable tweaks. I used American Munich/Vienna instead of European. I used pre-aged "Lambic" hops from Yakima Valley in hopes of pushing some of the fruity depth they can provide.

Homegrown sour cherries.While I enjoy cherries in pale lambic-type beers, they can easily dominate the subtle malt profile. I've had good results with them in sour reds in the past, and wanted to try staggered additions. I opted for Scott Labs 58W3 wine yeast for primary fermentation. A previous Flemish red had done well with another wine strain, and I hoped that given this strain was selected to free aromatics (bound terpenes and glycosides) from wine grapes, it might benefit the cherries. For ease of timing and considering that all of the bright-fresh aromatics are already gone, I added dried sour cherries a month into souring. Russian River adds dried sour cherries to the Pinot Noir barrels for Supplication along with the Brett, so I was in good company. As I usually do, I rinsed the dried fruit briefly in StarSan to remove the oil that prevents them from sticking.

Sour and dark cherries waiting for beer.Souring was provided by dregs from De Garde Saison Facile. And I can say without question they did a much better job than the other half of the batch with Wyeast Roeselare (no tasting today as it has a strong sulfur character).

Once the dried cherries had given their all, I racked onto a 2:1 combination of homegrown sour cherries and farmer's market sweet/dark cherries. I have read and heard from several reliable sources (Wild Brews and Dave Pyle) that the sour cherries of Belgium are somewhere between sweet and sour cherries in America.

The attendees to my February Sour Beer BYO Boot Camp in San Diego will have a chance to taste this beer (and blend it with several of my other dark and cherry sours) as those in Indianapolis did in November! The early bird $100 discount only runs through 12/15.

Cherry Wine

Finished beer under our cherry tree.Smell – The homegrown sour cherries really shine. It smells like the defrosting bag of fruit. Light spice, almost cinnamon, something I’ve gotten in the past from dried sour cherries. Not much malt coming through.

Appearance – Clear garnet. The base beer without fruit is red, the cherries provide depth and push it more burgundy. Small light-tan head, good retention.

Taste – The fruit flavor is true and saturated... jammy. The various types of cherries adding depth without muddling the overall fruit impression. Firm lactic acidity, with added sharpness from the fruit. The malt doesn’t have the oomph I expect from that amount of Munich and Vienna. Not much Brett character, but it does have more funky-depth than a kettle sour. A touch of perceived sweetness lingering with the fruit and almondy pits.

Mouthfeel – The high FG provides some substance to the otherwise crisp profile. Solid carbonation, not too much.

Drinkability & Notes – A showcase for cherries without being only about the fruit. One of the best cherry sours I’ve brewed. Saturated with fruit, and good balanced acidity. I’ve been enjoying this and it has been going quickly as I've been nervous that the gravity finished higher than I expected.

Changes for Next Time –  Maltiness could be firmer, will likely switch back to Weyermann for the Vienna and Munich. I'd get my timing better and add the dried cherries to the carboy before I transfer the beer in.

Recipe

Clear wort pumped into the kettle.Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 13.9
IBU: 13.3
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.018
ABV: 5.8%
Final pH: 3.27
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 90 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
37.0% - 5 lbs Briess Borlander Munich Malt
33.3% - 4.5 lbs Briess Goldpils Vienna Malt
18.5% - 2.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewers malt
7.4% - 1 lbs Weyermann CaraRed
3.7% - .5 lbs Weyermann CaraAroma

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 158F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz YVH Lambic (Pellets, 2.00% AA) @ 90.0 min

Water
-------
5.5 g Calcium Chloride
.5 Whirlfloc Tablet

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
90
110
50
15
10
90

Fruit
-------
1 lbs Dried Sour Cherries
3 lbs Sour Cherries
1.5 lbs Dark/Sweet Cherries

Yeast
-------
Scott Labs 58W3
De Garde Saison Facile Dregs

Notes
-------
Recipe adjusted to reflect only half of the batch tasted here.

Brewed 2/19/17

Collected 7 gallons of 1.056 runnings from 8 gallon mash with 5.5 g of CaCl, and 1.5 gallon cold water sparge.

YVH lambic/aged hop pellets.Lambic hops from Yakima Valley Hops. Bagged. No idea on AA%, wort had almost no bitterness.

Chilled to 62F, shook to aerate, pitched 8 g of BM45 in one half, 5 g of 58W3 in the other. No other bugs, yet. Left at 70F to ferment.

3/5/17 Racked both to secondary.

BM45 - 1.026, pitched a pack of Roeselare

58W3 - 1.032, pitched De Garde Saison Facile dregs.

Left at ambient basement temperature, ~60F.

4/8/16 Added 1 lb of dried cherries to the 58W3 half. Rinsed in StarSan to remove any surface oil (more than sanitation).

7/21/17 Racked the 58W3 half onto ~3 lbs of sour cherries (half homegrown) and 1.5 lbs of sweet cherries. Frozen and defrosted, purged with CO2. Left the dried cherries behind.

10/1/17 Bottled both halves with rehydrated Pasteur Champagne. 4.75 gallons of each, 97 g of table sugar, aiming for 2.3 volumes of CO2. The non-cherry half had a slight sulfur aroma and foamed oddly during bottling.

Cherry 3.27 pH and FG of 1.018 (higher than I expected although it did drop considerably from when it was transferred).

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations!

Monday, November 27, 2017

New England Pale Ale: Brewing Video

NEIPA has a well-deserved reputation for short shelf-stability. I've heard homebrewers refer to it as intentionally poorly brewed... but that's like saying a souffle is poorly baked because it sinks minutes after you remove it from the oven. If there was a way to achieve a beer with the same juicy hop flavor and pillowy body plus long shelf life I wouldn't complain!

Finished chit malt NE Pale AleThere are brewers like John Kimmach, who says Heady Topper is at it's best at 10 weeks old. I've heard brewers from three or four other breweries advocate holding onto their hazy IPAs (especially the double-dry hopped sorts) for a month or two. Not exactly cellaring potential, but better than the versions that fall apart after a couple weeks.

Cold storage and minimizing oxidation both improve stability, but what else can we do to extend the life of hazy IPAs? Wheat and even more so oats contain higher concentration of manganese than barley malt. Manganese can catalyze oxidative reactions as well as increase protein solubilization. However, I don't think you can drop wheat and oats from a NEIPA without replacing the extra protein contribution, which adds body and head retention (not to mention haze).

To replace the protein usually imparted by flaked grains, Scott bought a sack of Best Chit Malt and shared a few pounds with me. Chit is essentially the Reinheitsgebot-approved replacement for unmalted barley. It is under-modified, retaining a range of long-chain proteins. Theoretically these proteins could fill the same role as the oats/wheat, enhancing foam and mouthfeel but without the associated drawback to stability. For the first try, I used chit at about the same rate I would flaked oats, 20%.

For hot-side hops, I went for a budget option as I did in my previous batch. For that last batch I used Chinook and Nugget to provide linalool and geraniol. For this batch I used Columbus and Simcoe. Columbus makes up a large portion of the kettle hops for many of Trillium's fantastic IPAs, providing a nice dank base-note to balance the fruity hops added on the cold-side. I added the Simcoe to the boil because the 3MH it contributes increases during the boil (while catty 4MMP decreases). Certain yeast strains have the ability to converts 3MH (grapefruit and passion fruit) to 3MHA (similar flavors with a lower threshold). Something we'll be playing with at Sapwood Cellars!

Rather than talk about the brewing process for the 200th time, I took videos of the key points in the process and posted them to my YouTube channel with my descriptions, plus a version without a voice-over. Enjoy! I'm hoping to do more of this, especially as the brewery gets up and running and I have more interesting action to record!



Good Chit NEIPA

Smell – Pleasant mixture of tropical and lightly dank. As always I appreciate a balance rather than the “straight juice” aromatics of some examples. If I want a fruit beer, I’ll drink a fruit beer! The volume could be turned up, despite the heavy hot-side, fermentor, and keg hopping it doesn’t leap out of the glass like my favorite batches. A result of the yeast or something else? Clearly it isn't malt aromatics in the way.

Appearance – It isn’t clear, but it certainly looks more like an unfiltered West Coast IPA than a standard NEIPA. I don’t brew for appearance, but there certainly is some eye-palate interaction that it doesn’t fit. There are some suggestions that above a certain point more proteins (especially large proteins) are likely to coagulate and drop from suspension. It was hazier the first few weeks, but it cleared up in the keg.

Taste – Crisp, missing the malt sweetness to support the fruity volatiles. The saturated hop flavor is nice, again walking that line between fruity (grapefruit and passion fruit) and dank. Malt is subdued, could use a boost from a portion of English malt or crystal malt. A friend commented that it has a zwickelbier-like maltiness, hard to argue with it being more subdued than most.

Mouthfeel – While the head lasts it is thick and luxurious. It really adds creaminess to the body. While retention started off lackluster for the first couple weeks, it really came into its own. Although after the head fades the body is lackluster. Thin, crisp, just a hint of tannins in the finish. The screen did a good job keeping the powder burn to a minimum.

Drinkability & Notes – It is a unique interpretation of the style. Somewhere between the crispness and cleanness of a Russian River IPA, and the fruity-tropical hop character of NEIPAs. While I don’t want sugary, I think the style benefits from a little perceived sweetness. Drinking this seven weeks after brewing I have to say that it did hold up better than my typical oat-heavy NEIPAs!

Changes for Next Time – A little iso-hop extract might add the longevity the head needs. In exchange I’d move the 10-minute addition later or slightly cool before adding the whirlpool addition. Maybe a small dose of light crystal malt to add sweetness?

Recipe

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 3.8
IBU: 62
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.6%
Final pH: 4.65
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 75 Mins

Fermentables
----------------
80.0% - 20.0 lbs Rahr 2-row Brewer's Malt
20.0% - 5.0 lbs Best Chit Malt

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 156F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 10 min
6.00 oz Columbus (Whole, 15.00% AA)  @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
4.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA)  @ Dry Hop Day 2
4.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2
2.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2
2.00 oz Simcoe (Cryo, 26.00%) @ Keg Hop
1.50 oz Citra (Cryo, 24.00%) @ Keg Hop
1.50 oz Mosaic (Cryo, 25.00%) @ Keg Hop

Other
-------
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins

Water
--------
19.0 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
15.0 g Gypsum @ Mash
2.0 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Mash


Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
150
150
150
10
5
40

Yeast
-------
WLP013 White Labs London Ale

Notes
-------
Brewed 10/8/17

10 gallons filtered DC water and 6 gallons of distilled. All of the salts in at the start of the mash. 2 tsp of lactic acid to lower the mash pH from 5.47 to 5.23.

Sparged with 3 gallons of room-temperature distilled water.

Collected 14 gallons of 1.046 runnings.

Chilled to 76F, placed in the freezer for an hour before pitching, and shaking to aerate. An hour later down to 69F, moved to 63F room to ferment. Internal ~68F for most of primary.

10/10/17 Dry hopped. Around high krausen.

10/20/17 Kegged with the Cryo in the stainless steel canisters. Mosaic and Citra were pellets, Simcoe was powder.

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Stonefruit Vanilla Nitro Sour!

One slice of white nectarine.Vanilla and fruit are an undeniable combination in desserts. As far as beer goes, it’s gained new popularity in Milkshake IPAs. But it isn't a new combination for sour beer, going back at least the original Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus (and more recently Zwanze 2016). I decided to try adding a vanilla bean to a quick sour with white peaches and nectarines to provide depth and balance.

My concept was similar to the "Pop" series from Grimm Artisanal Ales - although I was unaware of them until after brewing. I sampled the Pineapple variant while mine was carbonating and wasn't disappointed by the bold flavors! My base beer and process shared more than a few similarities with previous batches (including Rhubarb Berliner, Atomic Apricot). Simple pale grist including oats for mouthfeel, no-boil to retain fresh malt aromatics, and no hops in the kettle.

For souring, I turned to GoodBelly probiotics for the first time. While I could have selected a complimentary fruit flavor, I added two “Straight Shots.” Lacto grows remarkably quickly, so no need to make a starter if they are fresh. I only chilled the wort to 85F with my Therminator plate-chiller. There is no need to maintain a high temperature or worry too much about oxygen contact when souring with a pure culture, so I allowed it to slowly cool to my target pitching temperature of the ale yeast to follow. I boiled the remainder of the wort and it continued on to become Nelson Thyme Saison.

GoodBelly Straight Shot face.After a day of souring I pitched Safale S-04, and shortly after added a split vanilla bean - which incidentally have doubled in price over the last year! The following weekend I visited the local farmer's market and bought a total of 10 lbs of white peaches and nectarines (two of my favorite fruits for sour beer). The nectarines were perfectly juicy and aromatic a couple days later, peaches were a little dry and mealy but still usable. The beer was actually pretty good even before adding the fruit, with the vanilla playing with the doughy malt.

This recipe would be a good candidate for lactose to taste, to reinforce the perceived sweetness that vanilla and fruit contribute, but considering that I’m about to open a vegan brewery… I thought better of it. Instead to replace that “creaminess” I planned to serve the beer on beer gas through my stout faucet. The problem with sour beers (especially quick sours) is that their head retention is often lacking. To combat that, I lowered the pH of the wort pre-souring to inhibit proteolysis by the Lactobacillus.

I wanted more insurance than that though. Reduced isomerized alpha acids can be terrifically foam-positive, but I couldn't find a reasonably sized/priced homebrew-scale source (e.g., Head Master). I so emailed a couple producers and Kalsec obliged with samples of their Tetralone and Hexalone (tetrahydro- and hexahydro-iso-alpha-acids). These are already isomerized – so no need to boil them to impart bitterness like the typical CO2 hop extracts. I added 1 g of the Tetra at kegging for 5 gallons, enough for 6 IBUs. Incidentally Tetra-hop extract used by Miller to allow them to sell beer in clear bottles with no risk of skunking. Could be eye-catching to serve a fruited sour from clear bottles...

Creamsicle Weisse: Stonefruit
Tetralone from Kalsec.
Smell – Nice fresh white-stonefruit aroma, especially as it warms. Some doughiness (like uncooked pie crust). Vanilla adds depth, but isn’t immediately recognizable. Pleasant aroma, but doesn’t jump out of the glass - partly due to low carbonation.

Appearance – Not a spectacular head in terms of volume or retention, but pretty good considering it is a no-boil fruited quick sour! Tetra seems to have done a pretty good job. The creamy nitro-head doesn’t last to the last sip like some of the stouts I’ve run through the tap, but it is solid. The base itself is hazy and pale yellow.

Taste – Flavor has a nice tartness, sort of citric in the finish. Bright and quick. GoodBelly's L. plantarum did an admirable job, no weird Lacto-gaminess.  Solid fruit, but not the intensity I was hoping from such good nectarines. In some previous no-boil’s the doughy flavor has played well with the fruit, but in this case it muddies the fruit and vanilla. I don’t taste a contribution from the hop extract, so it likely could be increased. Nice lingering white peach aroma.

Mouthfeel – While the head survives it adds creaminess to the palate. Other than the low carbonation, a pretty typical light-sour thin body.

Drinkability & Notes – It’s a really pleasant, sort of weird/unique sour fruit beer. A good first try at something new, but I probably wouldn't order a second pour of it at a bar with other things to sample.

Changes for Next Time – Maybe a little light crystal malt to add some perceived sweetness. Boil before souring. Double to hop extract to see if that improves the head retention. More fruit (or better peaches) and maybe even another vanilla bean if it needs it. Half a pound of lactose would be a nice addition if you want it to add a little sweetness. 1/2 tsp dissolved in warm water in the bottom of the glass cuts through the acidity, make it more like dessert.



Recipe


Batch Size: 5.5 gal
SRM: 3.0
White nectarines, onto the peaches!IBU: 6.0
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.011
ABV: 4.3% (ignoring the fruit)
Final pH: 3.46
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
81.8% - 9 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
18.2% - 2 lbs Quaker Quick Oats
6 lbs White Nectarines - Day 7
4 lbs White Peaches - Day 7

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

Hops
-------
1 g Kalsec Tetralone (Iso Extract) @ Kegging

Water
-------
3.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
2.25 g Gypsum @ Mash
2.00 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Mash
0.50 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Sparge
3.00 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Primary

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
85
75
90
15
10
90

Other
-------
1 Vanilla Bean @ Primary Day 5

Yeast
-------
GoodBelly Straight Shot
SafAle S-04 English Ale

Notes
-------
Brewed 8/26/17

Mash pH initially 5.50 at mash temp with .5 tsp. 5.38... 5.27... 5.12 (~5.37 at room temp). .5 tsp Lactic mixed in with cold sparge water.

Heated to 170F, ran off ~6 gallons of 1.044 runnings through the plate chiller at 85F. Pitched 2 Goodbelly Straight Shots and added 2 tsp of lactic: pH 4.67. 1 tsp more and got it to 4.45. Left at 68F to sour and cool for the brewer's yeast. Pitched S-04 without rehydration 30 hours after pitching the Lacto. Left at 68F ambient.

8/30/17 Added one vanilla bean, split length-wise.

8/31/17 Down to pH 3.33, but doesn't taste that acidic.

9/02/17 Added 6 lbs of White Nectarines and 4 lbs of White Peaches (weight before pitting and slicing). Bagged in new nylon knee-highs to contain the pulp.

9/17/17 Kegged, squeezing out the fruit bags. Added 1 g of Tetra hop extract to the keg first mixed with 50 g of beer.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nelson Thyme Honey Saison

Pure Nelson Thyme Honey Honey is remarkable. The 12 oz/375 g in this saison contained the sugar paid-out by hundreds of thousands of flowers that coevolved with honeybees, incentivizing them to transport their genetic material. Those bees flew a combined distance in the tens of thousands of miles. Then, by flapping their wings to speed evaporation of the nectar, they concentrated the flowers' aromatics and sugars, preserving both for years (or potentially millennia). Boiling the honey drives off the aromatics, so with all of the effort it took to collect and concentrate them I save honey for cold-side additions!

I’ve brewed with more than a dozen honey varieties over the years (including sourwood, gallberry, raspberry, blueberry, acacia, buckwheat, orange blossom, rosemary, meadowfoamheather, and wildflower). "Fruit" honey is the easiest place to start as they are the most approachable (bright, fruity, and sweet). However, it often takes 20-30% of the sugar in the batch to really contribute their unique character. Over the last year I’ve become fond of honey gathered from herbs. These have more punch (not surprising given that herbs are prized for their intense aromas). Honey Bunches of Saison (rosemary honey) was delicious and distinct with less than 10% of the fermentables from the honey, but it was a little one dimensional with the honey overwhelming the late-boil hops.

I’d been tipped-off to look for thyme honey while I was visiting New Zealand. We didn’t see any at the honey stands we stopped at along the road from Christchurch to Nelson (although we did buy a jar of wildflower). Luckily while I was brewing at Marchfest in Nelson, Audrey visited the local farmer’s market and bought 500 g. I though some Nelson Sauvin dry-hopping would be a good fruity-counterpoint to the bold herbal character of the honey, and really make this a Nelson Saison. I opted for Chinook and Nugget for a cheapskate route to beta-citronellol as in my biotransformation NEIPA. I considered adding a bottle of Nelson Sauvignon blanc too (ala my Nu Zuland recipe), but when I tasted the beer it already had enough flavor.
Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend!
Fermentation was provided by my house saison blend, available once again for a limited release from Bootleg Biology today through October 30!

It's Nelson Thyme

Smell – That thyme honey is out of control! Glad I didn't add the whole jar, wish I’d gone even lower. Herbal, woodsy, and waxy. Just a hint of that earthiness I associate with buckwheat honey. There is a faint citrusy-hoppiness, but the classic white-wine Nelson is mostly obscured.

A glass of Saison with Hops and Honey from New ZealandAppearance – Radiant yellow body. Cloudy without being murky. Fantastically airy yet solid foam sitting on top. Beautiful.

Taste – Flavor is brighter than the nose, big citrus (lemon mostly) with a touch of crisp tartness. Honey is still there, but seems more balanced than the aroma. Still strong herbal, although not explicitly thyme. White wine in the finish. Mellow, but present hop bitterness. Malt is restrained. Yeast is buried under the honey and hops. Hint of classic leathery Brett funk in the finish. Lingering retronasal-olfactory is fantastic blend of yeast and honey and hops.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp, solid carbonation. No harshness or tannins.

Drinkability & Notes – The honey has actually faded and integrated over the last few weeks. More balanced and citrusy. Happy with the combination of hot-side hops as a citrusy base, disappointed with the contribution of four ounces of Nelson Sauvin between the fermentor and keg.

Changes for Next Time – Down to 8 oz thyme honey. Could up the Nelson Sauvin, or swap it for something less precious.

RecipeThe wort coming to a boil
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 3.0
IBU: 30.1
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.004
ABV: 7.2%
Final pH: 4.16
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
76.6% - 9 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
17.0% - 2 lbs Quaker Quick Oats
6.4% - 12.0 oz Pure Nelson Thyme Honey (closest I could find online)

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz Chinook (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Steep/Whirlpool
2.00 oz Nugget (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Steep/Whirlpool
2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 5
2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

Water
-------
3.00 g Calcium Chloride
2.00 tsp Lactic Acid
2.25 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
85
75
90
15
10
90

Yeast
-------
The Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Notes
-------
Brewed 8/26/17

Mash pH initially 5.50 at mash temp with .5 tsp. 5.38... 5.27... 5.12 (~5.37 at room temp). .5 tsp Lactic mixed in with cold sparge water. Collected 7.5 gallons at 1.044.

Added hops at flame-out after chilling the 7.5 gallons of wort remaining to 185F. Recirculated for 30 minutes before running off the saison portion. 1.054. Chilled to 82F and pitched the House culture (9 month old harvest that had been in the fridge, gushed a little 4 hours with first runnings to get going). Left at 78F ambient to ferment. Good activity by the next morning. Ambient stayed between 77-79F for primary.

8/30/17 Fermentation appeared finished. Added 12 oz of "Pure Nelson" Thyme Honey to primary on the saison (effective OG ~1.059). Warmed in a water bath and then the microwave until dissolved.

8/31/17 Dry hopped with 2 oz of Nelson, loose.

9/10/17 Kegged the Nelson half with 3 oz of table sugar and 2 oz of keg hops.

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Beautiful rocky head